More and more people are becoming mindful of the ecological impact of using vehicles that run on traditional fuels.
So, alternatives like e-bikes are rightfully gaining quite a bit of popularity. But those of you who want to attach trailers to take your kids along, pets or gear might be skeptical about how effective these vehicles can be.
So, here’s the answer to whether or not you can attach trailers to an e-bike and if yes, what to keep in mind.
How It Works with Different Types of Trailers
When you have a regular bike, it is natural to use it to pull a trailer. But can an electric bike pull a trailer? That’s a valid question. And the simple answer is yes. No matter the kind of trailer you have, yes there is more than one kind, you might want an e-bike that can do all the things your regular bike does.
But there are a few things to note so that you don’t overexert your e-bike, starting with the types of trailers. Let’s take a look.
- Cargo Trailers
Also called flatbed trailers, cargo trailers are available in different sizes. They are typically used to carry heavy items like lawn mowers. Some people also use these trailers to carry their gear around for a long-distance trip. Whether it is a single-wheeled trailer or a two-wheeled one, the right kind of e-bike can pull it comfortably.
Cargo trailers with two wheels are known to be more stable. They are also great when it comes to getting the gear on and off the trailer a little easier. The only problem you might encounter is that these trailers are a bit harder to pull with an e-bike.
Cargo trailers with one wheel, on the other hand, don’t present that problem. So, when you have an e-bike, these are relatively easier to pull. Trailers with one wheel are also quite easy to handle when the pathway is narrow.
The drawback here is that it is a little difficult to load and unload the gear onto these trailers. That means you need to plan a little when it comes to balancing the load to prevent them from flipping.
- Pet Trailers
This is the second type of trailer—pet trailers are often called cousins of the first variety. They are smaller and weigh a lot less compared to cargo trailers.
But they are a preferred choice for—you guessed it—pets because they have an enclosure that keeps the pets safe from the outside environment.
Pet trailers also have a sturdy bottom which leaves room for the pets to rest their paws. When you are not using them for your pet, you can use them as cargo trailers if you don’t have too much gear.
However, it does not work the other way round. If you want to turn a cargo trailer into a pet trailer, you will need to make some design changes so that there is an enclosure to keep the pets safe. But, we digress.
The bottom line is that these are meant for lighter weights and an e-bike with the right capacity can easily handle their weight.
- Kid Trailers
This is the last type of trailer and as the name indicates, it is built for children. They are all made such that your child is both comfortable and safe in the trailer. One of the most common features that makes that happen is the harness.
You will find them with one of two seats and regardless of which one you have, your e-bike can pull them with ease. However, there are no kids trailers that have just one wheel because that is too big a risk to take with infants.
These trailers also have an enclosure on the top to keep the babies from being attacked by environmental factors like rain and snow along with classic problems like mosquitoes and bees.
Features Your Bike Needs to Tow a Trailer Efficiently
We have mentioned earlier that an e-bike “with the right capacity” can tow just about any of these trailers. Here’s what we mean by capacity. There are four essential features that give your e-bike the capacity to pull a trailer. And then there is a little extra in the end. Take a look.
- Motor Power
A standard e-bike comes with a 250 W motor power rating. If you are a light rider, this should be good enough to take you all over the town.
And if you don’t have any weights attached to it, you don’t have to worry all that much about the terrain either. But if you are going to add weights like a trailer, the bike needs to have some more output. This means you need a high-powered motor.
Now, depending on the type of trailer you want to pull, your e-bike motor must have a power rating of 500 W or more.
But before you jump at the upgrade, make sure you look up the rules and regulations for e-bikes that have more than a 500 W power output.
- Type of Motor
Every e-bike comes equipped with a motor. Primarily, we are dealing with three types here: front, read and hub.
When it comes to better performance for e-bikes that need to lug trailers along, the mid-drive motor is unanimously considered the best option.
These motors are known to perform well because they use the gears on the bike that provide a better torque rating.
These motors are also preferred when the bike needs to go uphill or be ridden on tricky terrain.
Then there is the matter of getting your e-bike’s battery to handle the load. When you add weight, your bike’s battery will consume more power and as a result, it will get drained sooner than it would without the trailer.
So, if you want to make it to your destination with the trailer, make sure you get one with an extra power draw. This will increase the range of your e-bike’s circulation without having to pedal all the way to the finish line.
When you add a trailer to the e-bike, you will be adding weight. But this is in addition to the weight of the bike itself which is heavier than your average bicycle.
So, the battery has to deal with both those components. In these cases, it is not a bad idea to carry an extra battery so that you are not met with unpleasant surprises.
Adding weight to an e-bike also messes with its ability to stop as efficiently as you want. Anyone who has ridden a regular bike with a new passenger (of different weight) knows what we’re talking about.
This is another area where the vote unanimously goes to disc brakes. Their braking ability, especially when there is a load attached is consistent and hence impressive.
If your current bike does not have disc brakes, well, you can always upgrade them to better-performing brake pads. These brakes are terrific even when the roads are wet and the braking capacity is organically unreliable.
You can also improve traction by opting for rim brakes or v-brakes but disc brakes are the best option.
- Other Accessories
You can also get a few fun additions that will help you monitor your bike’s performance when there is a trailer attached. For instance, you can get racks that give you more space.
You can also get an LCD monitor for the front which will tell you about your battery capacity. No one ever complained about getting a heads-up on that, did they?
Some of these new-age bikes also have wireless abilities which help you connect your smartphone to the bike.
And the best news is that you can add all these features without adding to the overall weight of the e-bike.
Battery Considerations When Pulling a Trailer
Your e-bike’s battery is often the most important thing to monitor when you are adding a trailer. And the factors that affect your battery are the additional weight, terrain and the assistance (meaning how much you can pedal) the bike gets.
The weight of the trailer might not be something you can control and more often than not, it’s the same with the terrain.
But based on where you live and the status of the roads in your city, you can always make a choice of getting an e-bike with a motor that can handle the terrain.
This is the biggest factor when it comes to deciding how much load your battery can take and how far an e-bike can go after charging it just once.
Pedaling is another aspect. This also helps battery range because your legs can also be seen as a motor. The more you pedal, the less load your motor needs to carry. So, more pedaling increases the range of a single battery charge.
If your bike has a power-on-demand option, you can attach a heavier trailer but that brings the range down to 80 percent.
So if your bike typically does 50 miles on one charge, when you load it completely, you might get only 10 miles. That is, of course, if the terrain is tricky too. But even if the roads cooperate, the result isn’t as great.
But if you choose to pedal a little, the motor gets a break and your range can be maintained if not increased.
So now you know what kind of e-bike you need depending on the kind of trailer you want to pull with it.
If you’re already the proud owner of an e-bike, time to check the specs and get set going.